Marcus Classic Movie Nights #1: Ghostbusters

Our flagship theater here in Lincoln, The Grand (no relation), has started a series of classic movie nights where they show an older film at midnight on a Friday, with $5 admission. Last night (or early this morning, I guess) my wife, Tina, and I picked up erstwhile Splattercast engineer Spooky McPhee and headed downtown to see Ghostbusters.

I’m sure our friends like T.J., Teen*Idol and ArsonCuff who live in more “happening” parts of the country get to do these sorts of things more regularly but for us here in Lincoln, Nebraska, it’s a treat. The turnout appeared to be very strong, and the crowd was very well-behaved. You could tell everyone was there to enjoy the movie and not to dick around (in my experience, midnight showings filter out the dumbass kids).

It was a good time… but… were they just showing a DVD? And the aspect ratio was screwed-up, too. The curtains were partially drawn over the sides of the screen and the projected image was most definitely a TV-esque square shape. I’m no Ghostbusters historian (hat-tip, Sleepycast) but I assume the movie was originally presented in the typical widescreen format, right? The exciting part, to me, of these midnight screenings was the prospect of watching an actual film projection of these movies as they would have originally been shown in their original theatrical runs. The idea that they may have just popped in a DVD is very disappointing. I guess I should just call the theater and ask, so I know for sure.

Thankfully, in the case of Ghostbusters, the film is so amazingly classic that its own merits carry the experience and we all had a blast watching it. However, if it does turn out that they’re simply playing a DVD, and in frickin’ 4:3 to boot, then I’ll probably skip the future showings. Kind of a bummer.

Mat, did you attend this? I peered around the theater but didn’t see you. If I’m incorrect on any of these technical claims, please set me straight.



13 Responses

  1. Yes, I attended.

    And yes, you are correct that they simply projected a full frame dvd.

    it was bullshit, and I shall not be spending 5 dollars to attend any of those in the future.

  2. I’ve lived in 2 different locations in New Jersey (north/south) and in neither place did any theater ever do something as cool as classic movie nights. There was one theater that’s gone now that played Night of the Living Dead every Friday at midnight, that’s as close as it gets

    I’m kinda jealous despite the ratio

  3. Yeah I’ve got tickets to see a new print of The Fly (1987) at the Cinerama Dome with David Cronenberg speaking beforehand. Still haven’t made it out to the New Beverly Midnights yet.

    I think you guys need to set those fuckers straight and even offer to CURATE the evening or do a HORROR PICK one saturday of the month.

    This is the kind of thing that needs to be supported because having it is probably better than not. Even if you could have just watched it on a big tv.

  4. Well, turnout looked great, so I’m sure they’ll continue the series. From what I could tell, the mood of the crowd was happy and energetic before, during & after the show.

  5. Although I agree that not properly adjusting the curtains before the screening is total crap (although *very* easy to do, especially before a midnight screening), I do have to say that I’m not surprised that a main-stream theatre like the Douglas Grand would be using a DVD for a classic movie night. Keep in mind that a film print of decent quality for an older movie can be hard to come by, not to mention costly (rental fees, shipment of film cans, plus staff hours to put it together, all for a “one-off”). However, if they are going to use a DVD, they could atleast invest in a widescreen version (though I couldn’t say for certain what the aspect ratio of the original theatrical version was, and it sounds to me like the throw of the DVD-projector wasn’t properly adjusted). I’d say give it another shot, they might get their technical bugs worked out.

  6. Yeah, I mean, for probably 95% of the people there, it was a blast and they loved it. The “aspect ratio” was probably the last thing on their minds. Even for me, who was disappointed with the presentation… I had a great time watching Ghostbusters in a packed theater because it’s just such an awesome movie.

    I’m a little torn… I don’t want them to just utterly fail and get the idea that there’s no market for this type of thing. On the other hand, it’s just a big fat disappointment to watch a 4:3 DVD. I’d be bitching a lot less if they at least managed to display the film in widescreen.

  7. Do you think The Grand did it that way to kind of test the water, to see if many people would show up? Maybe since it was successful they will put more money and effort into the next one.

    A while back, we attended all four (at the time) of Romero’s “Dead” movies back to back at a small independent cinema here in Bristol. They somehow managed to get hold of an old reel of “Night” – which of course broke halfway through. Sadly the versions of the rest of the movies were cut. I think I would have paid to see the DVDs projected, as the quality probable would have been better, and we would have seen the full length versions of the movies. I really enjoyed the experience of watching 8 hours of zombie movies with a large group of fans.

  8. Yeah, if I weren’t so timid I’d call the theater and ask to interview them about the technical details of these screenings. Maybe it’s simply much less expensive and troublesome to show a DVD as compared to a years-old reel of film. That would be my guess.

  9. The fact that it was DVD didn’t bother as much as the aspect ratio. My theory is that they used the same projector that they play all the ads on before the movie…which is 4:3 and doesn’t fill the entire movie screen. This projector is probably fixed in place, so I’m guessing 4:3 is all we’re going to see unless they get an actual film reel to play or invest in a 16:9 projector specifically for the midnight movies.

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